JK natural disaster: Rebuilding through CSR

Jammu & Kashmir has experienced three of the total 14 major natural disasters in Indian history since 1991. Unfortunately, all the three disasters happened in short duration gap in last 9 years.  The worst ever natural disaster of September 2014 caused an unparalleled devastation in 20 out of 22 districts. Large swatches of Kashmir including Srinagar suffered colossal damage to public and private property, businesses, farm sector, tourism and numerous other segments.
A satellite based Indian Space Research Organization joint rapid assessment on J & K flood 2014 devastation has revealed that 557 square kms were inundated. Bandipore district bore the major brunt with 148 sq kms coming under the floods. Pulwama saw floods over 102 sq kms and Srinagar over 100 sq kms. According to this assessment updated till 22nd September, 22 lakh people were affected by this deluge. Tehsil Sonawari  of Bandipora was reportedly devastated on a large scale.  The preliminary damage is estimated at over Rs 1 lakh crore.
According to World Bank, annual direct losses from natural disasters are estimated at 2% of India’s Gross Domestic Product ( GDP ). By that account the loss caused by J & K Disaster 2014 on its own in a single instance  could be a significant percentage of average annual losses.
Thousands of jobs in private sector have vanished & thousands more face imminent axe. Livelihoods have thus gone for a shocking toss. People are anxiously waiting for relief & rehabilitation, urgent credit support for business revival, schemes for redevelopment & measures for protection of lost jobs. The state is battling after effects of this worst Natural Disaster. However even after close to 2 months, the ground realities on account of support measures, rehabilitation planning & unending stream of mounting miseries leave many unanswered questions. Honourable Supreme Court and J & K High Court had to intervene many a times to come to the rescue  of the affected people.
India’s much hyped ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ ( CSR) is yet to recognise the magnitude of monetary loss as caused by vast destruction. Admittedly 2014 Kashmir flood is the severest disaster in recent Indian history. In such a situation, Central Govt owned PSUs particularly Mahanavratnas like ONGC, Coal India Ltd and Indian private corporate sector in large number has to assume the mandated responsibility under a statutory provision (Sec 135 of the Indian Companies Act) as applicable from 1st April 2014.   CSR support is one of the critical life lines of the J & K reconstruction agenda.
The first trial of mandated CSR by sheer coincidence is required to be held in the cities, towns & villages of J&K. Pursued in this spirit, this first opportunity for corporate sector can create substantial impact in relief efforts, playing a vital role in long-term rehabilitation. No doubt the CSR activities are visible in relief distribution at many places with financial assistance through NGOs, charitable and help organisations. However, the question is, is the CSR recognising the severity of colossal damage caused by this disaster? The answer unfortunately is ‘Not Yet’.
In mid June last year, the state of Uttarakhand suffered a worst natural disaster in its history due to the continuous rains & cloud bursts with an estimated loss of around Rs 12000 crore. The significant feature of this disaster management was in terms of response. It was real time, innovative and farsighted towards mitigating the sufferings of the affected people in 5 districts of the state.
Public and Private corporates rose to the occasion admirably, with few hundred crore financial assistance under Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) besides extending assistance in various forms like goods, logistic, technical and adversarial services. The major donors of almost 60 Indian corporate sector companies to this 2013 disaster are: Coal India Ltd: Rs 50 cr, Bharat Coking Coal Ltd: Rs 20 cr, BSNL: Rs 18 cr, ICICI group Rs 15 cr, NTPC Rs 10 Cr & Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd Rs 6.38 Cr.
Tata Group companies provided support in kind in thousands of units like 5000 Tata swatch water filters, 5000 solar power lamps. The group planned the forestation process to restore flora & fauna destroyed by floods. Tata consultancy engineers & Tata Housing Development company started working towards Low cost housing solution to provide shelters. 29 other private sector companies provided huge support for achieving business, redevelopment & rehabilitation goals. Besides, almost all state governments with UP with donation of Rs 25 cr taking lead extended liberal assistance in cash and kind.   It could be termed a state obligation, a philanthropic act, a collaborative & adversarial effort as the case may be. It reflected a deed in action & spirit.
As regards devastation caused by floods in the State of J and K, Prime Minster of India showed urgent response for an aerial assessment of the vast damages and assured all out support while announcing immediate assistance of Rs 1000cr. He called the deluge a national disaster. Visibly he was shaken by the firsthand account of the sufferings of the people. He appealed to public and all others for generous donations & started the initiative from his own office. J K  government’s comprehensive package proposal of Rs44000 cr meant to rehabilitate flood victims is with Central govt. Reports are that a central team to assess losses has held wider discussions with State officials for assessing the damage. Hopefully the committee will complete its work quickly.
PM needs to push the decision making on the proposed package at the earliest possible. The announcements of relief of Rs 570 cr for damaged houses and Rs 175 cr for hospital up gradation are in fact the first of a series of expected decisions on comprehensive consideration of state govt proposal. Hope the expected announcements do not get barred by election code of conduct.
However the fact is that as of now the support forthcoming from Corporate India for mitigating Kashmir suffering is peanuts in the face of huge losses Kashmir has suffered. Mahindra & Mahindra & Samsung Electronics with Rs 2 cr & Rs 3 cr respectively were first to respond to PM’s call for donations. US ambassador announced the aid on Uttrakhand pattern.  Indian Tobacco Company ( ITC ) with Rs 10 cr, SRM university Chennai Rs 1 cr and Shastra Seema Bal Rs 2.12 cr have lately donated to PM’s Kashmir relief fund. Details of other CSR financial support commitments of the corporate world for Kashmir relief are not available. However general feeling is that it is not picking up in the desired momentum.
However many state Governments like Bihar, Odissa, Uttrakhand took the lead in extending both  substantial cash as well as assistance in terms of critical components for relief & rescue.
All disasters are tragic in nature some of small or medium proportion and some of the high proportion. The   J and K disaster is undisputedly of very high severity. The loss caused is almost many times higher than the 2013 disaster. The mandated responsibility on Central Public Undertakings, Indian Corporates houses and multi nationals operating in India as also J & K centric corporate & big business houses calls for very high contributions. What is needed Is assistance much above the scope of the obligatory Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) budget of 2% of average net profit of last 3 financial years to mitigate the sufferings of flood affected people of the State. Small donations and services here and there will neither bring visible difference on the ground nor cover all the affected 15.27 lakh families or 22 lakh population.

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